Microsoft Starts First-Ever Military Spouse Technology Program

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A group of military spouses near Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, started Microsoft's first-ever Military Spouse Technology Academy class this week.

A free pilot program modeled after the company's Software & Systems Academy for military veterans, the first iteration of the 22-week course will offer 19 students the skills needed to start an information technology (IT) career, as well as mentorship, resume development and a guaranteed job interview with Microsoft, which is based in the nearby Seattle area.

"This is a pilot program; we've never done it before," said Chris Cortez, Microsoft's vice president for military affairs. "We really think this has a lot of potential because we know that military spouses are super talented."

To pick students for this first course, Microsoft officials interviewed interested military spouses in the JBLM area. Prospective students were also required to complete the Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) certification leading up to the class, in part to demonstrate that they have the skills needed to be successful in the course.

Cortez said Microsoft developed the course specifically with military spouses in mind, taking a hard look at everything from class schedules to making sure class is out on the same days JBLM has training holidays.

"When we're building a course for the military spouse community ... you really have to think about what the military spouse requirements are and what's going to work with them," he said.

For now, the course, which is conducted in person at a USO center near JBLM, is open to active-duty and veteran spouses. And Cortez said Microsoft has yet to develop plans for expansion to other areas of the country. Instead, he said, it wants to first make sure this class is a success.

"We really are focusing on this opportunity," he said. "We're calling it a pilot because we don't know what we don't know."

The Microsoft course is the latest in a series of initiatives from U.S. technology corporations focused on military spouses. Earlier this year, the professional networking company LinkedIn introduced a program giving free premium memberships to military spouses who have recently moved or transitioned out of the military.


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